The Gospel of Hospitality

When the Messiah comes to visit us, how do we respond?

Luke’s besorah (Gospel) is sometimes called the “gospel of hospitality.” This is in part because it describes the coming of the Messiah as a “visitation from God” (Luke 19:44) and focuses on the question of how people responded to “the Messiah, the Son of God” (Matthew 16:16; 26:63). Consider two scenes in Luke’s besorah.

In Luke 2:1–20, we are told that Yeshua the son of David was born in the city of David. However, the residents of this prophesied city (Micah 5:1[2]) did not recognize the time of their visitation or go out of their way to be hospitable to Yeshua and His family. Luke notes that because there was no room for Miryam and Yosef in the living-quarters, they had to find shelter in a barn. After Yeshua was born, Miryam laid the Messiah in a feeding trough or box for animals. Shepherds soon arrived, marveling over the child and praising God. Finally, a proper welcome!

In the next scene (Luke 2:21–40), Yosef and Miryam bring Yeshua into the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) to dedicate their firstborn to the Lord in keeping with the Torah of Moses (Luke 2:22–24; Numbers 18:15–16). A devout Jew named Shimon, led by the Ruach (Spirit), enters the Temple courts and holds Yeshua in his arms. He blesses Hashem with the words, “I have seen with my own eyes Your yeshu‘ah [salvation], which You prepared in the presence of all peoples—a light that will bring revelation to the Goyim and glory to Your people Isra’el” (Luke 2:30–32). Shimon welcomes Yeshua with the warmest of embraces!

What can we learn from these vignettes about welcoming the Messiah? To begin with, as Messianic Jews, each of us has experienced the Messiah’s visitation in our lives. We have experienced divine hospitality through the Messiah inviting us into His kingdom when we were sinners (Luke 5:29–32; 15:1–32). We should never take His divine welcome for granted but be continually thankful, expressing our gratefulness to Him in word and deed. Let us be like the shepherds who responded to the Messiah’s visitation by welcoming Him and praising God for Him.

Second, we need to cling to Yeshua as Shimon did. Yeshua is not an idea or a theology. He is a person, and we need to respond to His visitation in our lives with deep affection and warm embrace. When was the last time you bowed down and worshiped Yeshua? Or sang praises to Him? Chabad Chassidim are passionate about their rebbe. The way they speak about him and imitate him communicates their fervent love for him. We should be all the more devoted to our Melech HaMashiach (King Messiah), who laid down His life for us and continues to intercede for us in the heavenly Beit HaMikdash. Let us cling to Him like Shimon did and never let go.

Dr. David Rudolph
Dr. David Rudolph
Dr. David Rudolph is professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and director of the Messianic Jewish Studies program at The King's University in Southlake, Texas.